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The problem for Republicans is that George W. Bush was in charge when all this was happening and now the blame is also shifting to John McCain. Barack Obama, who doesn’t know anything more about finance than you or I, will be the beneficiary. Who knows, he may even choose George Soros as chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers.
SO WHAT WILL Soros advise? His criticism of Bush is more political than economic. We never should have gone into Iraq — it’s costing too much and the War on Terror is a phony. Of course all that is a little outdated. With Iraq stabilizing and the Taliban renouncing al Qaeda in Afghanistan, it appears George Bush may have drawn a winning hand after all.
Soros’s overall view of America’s situation in the world, however, extends far beyond Iraq and is not so easily dismissed. Like many other market watchers (James Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, for instance), Soros believes America is essentially living off the reputation of the dollar and is headed for a fall. The only reason the U.S. Treasury will be able to come up with $700 billion to bail out the banks is that China will lend us the money. But countries are getting tired of accepting a currency that is worth less and less. At some point there is going to be a run on the dollar and every American could lose a significant portions of his wealth overnight. George Soros, on the other hand, will do well. He’s shorting the dollar.
Much of this book is spent explaining Soros’s idea of “reflexivity.” This is one of those “theories of everything” that your grandfather forces on you at Thanksgiving. Like every liberal who ever breathed, Soros disputes Adam Smith’s economics. Markets do not tend toward equilibrium, he says. Instead they tend toward disequilibrium and can fall apart altogether. The reason, says Soros, is that while information is imperfect, people often act on this wrong information, making the situation worse.
The idea that classical economics depends on perfect information was discredited long ago by Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and the Austrian school. They argued that markets are a system for distributing information, with prices a search process by which players use their imperfect knowledge to discover true value. Liberal critics, on the other hand, want to short-circuit the process, saying that since markets are imperfect, governments must intervene to set them right.p>Soros is at least modest honest enough to admit that government regulators don’t have perfect knowledge either. Still, he somehow works around this, saying it’s important to have them in the mix anyway. br> /p>
[C]ontrary to market fundamentalist beliefs, the stability of financial markets is not assured; it has to be actively maintained by the authorities.br> Soros’s countertheory — “reflexivity” — actually seems to be based more on his own experience than objective reality. Reflexivity says that classical theory doesn’t work because the players themselves can change reality, even while they are relying on imperfect information. This only makes things more unstable. Soros speaks from experience. In the early 1990s, he single-handedly destroyed the Thai baht, bringing down the governments of Prime Minister General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and President Suharto of Indonesia. The result was rising anti-Western sentiment and the strengthening of Islamic separatist groups. Whereas the Austrian School posits there is economic reality, reflexivity ends up saying that economics is just history and nothing can be predicted with certainty. Those most experienced in reading the animal entrails, however, can still make a lot of money. (Soros’s son, who has also written his own book, reports that the real way his father judges investments is by how much pain they create in his back.)
Right now Soros recommends going short on the American dollar and long on China, India, and the Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms. “Saturday Night Live” satirized him for this vulture position last week but it probably isn’t a bad bet. Americans must recognize we are going through our inheritance by ignoring technologies such as nuclear energy and living off foreign oil.
On the other hand, just think, this guy could end up chief financial officer of a Barack Obama administration. Imagine that, the Secretary of the Treasury trying to reduce the deficit by speculating against the U.S. dollar. That should be interesting.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online